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Saturday, January 7, 2017

The seasonal water needs of north Texas birds


 

Birds need water every minute of every day, all year long.  Especially when it’s cold out! Since they also need to fly, they can’t store water in body fat like most animals. They must constantly get water either in its liquid form or as a component of the food they eat. Since birds live an active life, they lose water at a rapid rate. The smaller a bird is, the greater its daily water loss.  Since a big part of water loss is due to the air temperature, north Texas birds need A LOT of clean water, all year long.

They need water in the winter to keep warm, believe it or not. They need to bathe to stay alive (the actual bath takes just a few seconds). Clean feathers trap air efficiently and help insulate from the elements.  Only clean feathers! In freezing weather, I’ll keep baths unfrozen by adding boiling water every few hours.

 In warm weather, a small, inexpensive “dunk” floating in the birdbath kills mosquitoes, but won’t harm birds or pets at all.

 If you’re planning to put out a birdbath, remember that birds frighten easily. They’re small and (except for a few species) swim poorly. They shy away from water that’s more than 2½-3 inches deep.  They also prefer a gradually sloping bottom, instead of a sudden dropoff to the birdbath’s full depth.